SQUIDMAC Meeting 6 Chair's Summary
26 March 2002, Melbourne
- Richard McLoughlin, Chairman
- Andrew Watts, Victorian Industry
- Lisle Elleway, Victorian Industry
- Geoff Richey, Tasmanian Industry
- Jim Anastos, Victorian Industry
- Dave Molloy, State Government Victoria
- Ian Knuckey, Scientific Member
- Mark Norman, Environmental Member
- Melissa Brown, Executive Officer, AFMA
- Dennis Witt, Observer State Government Tasmania
- Kim Parkinson, AFMA
- Marguerite Clarke, AFMA Member
Because the AFMA Member was not available, Ms Clarke and Mr Parkinson provided advice to the MAC on behalf of AFMA Management.
The sixth meeting of the Southern Squid Jig Fishery Management Advisory Committee (SquidMAC) was held in Melbourne on 26 March 2002 and attended by all members. The primary objective of the meeting was to discuss the Discussion Paper on the future management arrangements for the fishery and the draft 2002/2003 budgets.
Ms Clarke advised that as agreed at SquidMAC 5, AFMA wrote to Oakley Shipping in response to their application to use three foreign vessels for the purposes of fishing against existing permits in the Southern Squid Jig Fishery. They informed them of the conditions that would be placed on the permits. Members noted that AFMA has not received a response.
Members were updated on the investigation into the activities of a Southern Squid Jig Fishery concession holder, who had submitted returns for days that the holder had not fished within the fishery. AFMA had been informed that the matter will be before the court on a date to be fixed for hearing. Ms Clarke advised that the Judge had requested the concession holder to go back and seek formal legal advice, as the courts felt that he was not adequately legally represented. AFMA expects it to be a successful prosecution.
The Committee noted that that there had been little effort to date in the Eastern Bass Strait, with the trawlers off Lakes Entrance not taking any squid. Mr Elleway advised that there were currently only 5-6 boats operating in the fishery, with the average catch off Portland being under a tonne. However, there has been a few catches of two tonnes a night. The squid taken had been approximately 20 cm in length. Members were advised that the price has dropped to $1.10 kg landed on the pier, which they believed was a key factor deterring operators from fishing. Processors buy imported processed squid for $4.50, control defrosting it and unpackaging it. Yet they prefer not to pay more for the local squid, which industry members believe was a better product.
The Committee noted that Queenscliff has been very quiet and that there had been no fishing off Tasmania, with the exception of a Victorian boat that caught nothing.
Discussion paper on future management arrangements
Ms Clarke advised that following discussions at SquidMAC 5, AFMA had modified the paper, in particular the section on allocation of future rights. AFMA undertook the extraction of data needed to calculate the allocation of gear units to fishers for the three elements discussed at SquidMAC 5. Logbook information on catch was used, as a proxy for investment because AFMA did not hold historical information on how many lights and machines were on boats, as it was not recorded on the logs. Members noted that the calculations were done in lumens to cover any advances that may occur in technology.
The Committee noted that the indicative seasonal allocation was calculated by using the figures from the 2000/2001 Data Summary. The number of active vessels (26) was multiplied by the average number of machines (7) and the average number of kilo Watts (98) used per vessel in 2000/2001. She emphasised that this is an estimate and is being used to give concession holders an idea of what they would receive under the proposal.
Industry members raised concerns that the paper in its current form would not allow all concession holders to go fishing using their existing gear.
Industry members believed that the allocation mechanism should be simplified, suggesting that a cap be placed on the level of lights and machines that a concession holder can use. This would be a deterrent to foreign vessels entering the fishery. Ms Clarke advised that this would be inconsistent with the economic efficiency objective, as there is no basis to put a cap on the amount of gear a concession holder could use. The Chair raised concerns with the industry members suggestion, stating that it was a significant departure from what was agreed to at the last meeting. He advised that he would be disappointed in the industry members that now the numbers have been calculated they want to change the mechanism. Other members agreed with these comments, saying that at the last meeting it was agreed that the MAC take into account the three criteria.
Ms Clarke advised that AFMA’s policy paper No 8, specifies that where there is an allocation of rights an Independent Allocation Advisory Panel (IAAP) would be appointed by AFMA to recommend an allocation mechanism. However, the draft paper proposes trying to resolve the issue without an IAAP, as this is a costly process. Therefore, the MAC noted that it needs to make a recommendation as to whether it avoids going to an IAAP and proceed with the discussion paper.
Mr Parkinson sought feedback whether to rework the numbers and go out for public comment or remove the section and recommend to go with an IAAP. Mr Molloy believed that based upon the disagreement on allocation within the MAC, it should to an IAAP and circulate the discussion paper without the allocation section. However, industry members did not agree with this approach and recommended that the numbers should be re-worked to provide for those operators that have invested highly in the fishery, but may not have large catch history.
The Committee agreed to have a two staged approach: to re-work the paper and seek consensus, but if no consensus was reached then to move to an IAAP. The paper should state that if no consensus was reached a decision on allocation would be referred to an IAAP. Ms Clarke advised that IAAP’s are government funded, however, the cost of staff support would be recovered through the levy base. Members also agreed that the investment criteria be increased from 1kg to 1 tonne.
The MAC agreed that the discussion paper would be revised as follows:
- re-work the allocation figures;
- put the section on allocation as an appendix to the paper;
- increase the investment criteria from 1kg to 1 tonne;
- outline in the paper that if consensus is not reached on the allocation mechanism, then an IAP would be used; and
- EO to circulate the revised paper for out-of-session consideration to the MAC by the end of April 2002.
Draft 2002/2003 budgets
Ms Clarke advised members that AFMA is seeking comments on the draft 2002/2003 budget. The Committee noted that in developing the budget AFMA had to determine what functions need to be undertaken in the fishery during the 2002/2003 financial year. A strategic assessment would need to be undertaken for the fishery and in order to do this, AFMA would have to do a statement of management arrangements. Therefore, it was decided that AFMA would look at developing a management plan, as there would be little extra work involved in developing a management plan versus developing a statement of management. The same steps, such as public consultation would have to be undertaken with both types of arrangements.
The Committee noted that the industry costs for managing the fishery had increased from $113,000 to $198,000. This was a result of the staff time that would be spent on the management of the fishery, such as finalising the discussion paper. Ms Clarke further advised that the other part of the increase related to the increase in overheads. The Committee noted that the increase is a result of feedback that was received at the Board workshop, in particular the area of communications was noted as struggling to meet demands and therefore required an increase in staffing.
Industry members raised concerns with the compliance costs in the fishery. Mr Parkinson advised that the costs are allocated on the amount of resources that are required for the fishery. In this fishery AFMA had incurred extra costs investigating logbook misreporting.
In summary, the MAC considered the budget and had no specific comments, with the exception of concerns with the compliance component and the increase in overhead costs.
Outcomes of 2001 research funding round
The Committee noted the two research proposal considered and supported by SquidMAC were forwarded to the AFMA Research Committee (ARC) for its consideration. The AFMA member advised that the ARC endorsed both projects with a low priority. In relation to the project on the tagging of blue sharks the ARC agreed that it was hard to see that the project had great relevance to the squid fishery other than the possibility of confirming that sharks are a problem. It believed that there would be a limited possibility that tagging would deter the sharks.
Feedback on industry funding for FAG
Ms Clarke advised that the Board is seeking feedback from the MAC in relation to having a level of industry cost-recovery for the operations of Fisheries Assessment Groups (FAGs). Members noted that the Board had agreed that costs for fishery assessment activities undertaken by FAGs be apportioned according to proportional benefits to industry and government. Industry costs would be recovered from levies in each fishery, while the government costs be funded from the AFMA research fund. However, until the attributable benefits can be identified, 25% of budgeted FAG costs would be attributed to industry in the 2002/03 financial year.
The Committee raised concerns about the effect that partial cost recovery would have on concession holders, as the market for squid was at an all time low. As a result, the Committee agreed that AFMA should consider an alternative and look at having a threshold for those fisheries that have a low FAG budget. The Committee further agreed that looking at the current FAG budgets, that a $20,000 threshold would be appropriate.
The Committee agreed to recommend that fisheries that have only received a small portion funding in the past should not have to contribute until such time that they exceed a threshold of $20,000.
Overview of the ecological risk assessment project
The Research member advised that AFMA has funded a large project to assess the risk to the environment posed by the fishery. Members noted that this is a one off project that industry does not have to pay for, with each fishery being covered in turn. It would be a transparent process. The expectation is that the bycatch and interactions with the environment for this fishery will be low and should meet the requirements of the assessment. He informed members that the risk assessment team met during the previous week and agreed that squid would be considered within the next six months. In order to undertake the assessment, the FAGs knowledge would be required, in order to determine the likely impacts.
The project would look at what is also known about the target species, including that it is a prey species for many other fisheries operating in a similar area. It is not just the fishing activities but has a broader scope, for example the project may look at the ecological impacts of the traces and jigs sitting at the bottom of the grounds, impacts from pollution, loss of gear and what are the likely risks and how to deal with them. The project would also examine any interaction with protected species, ie seals and any shark interactions.
Bycatch Action Plan
The Committee noted that the Board is committed to ensuring that MACs are meeting the actions specified in the Bycatch Action Plans. Ms Clarke advised that the squid fishery is on schedule in terms of implementing its actions. AFMA has redesigned the logbook in order to accommodate the recording of bycatch. Furthermore, the seal interaction project will cover off some of the work that is to be undertaken under the plan. As a follow up to the re-design of the logbook, the Committee agreed that AFMA write to all concession holders encouraging them to provide information on bycatch through the relevant section of the logbook, as it is important information to assist in the sustainable management of the fishery.
The Committee agreed to focus on the communication aspects of the plan over the next 6 months.
The MAC endorsed the progress report on implementation of the BAP actions and it agreed to progress with the actions over the next two meetings.
Seal interactions project
Ms Clarke advised that AFMA has funded a project coordinated by John Arnould of the Melbourne University to undertake research into the interactions with seals. The Committee noted that Dr Arnould had provided a brief overview of the project at SquidFAG 3. The project would involve observers being placed on board the vessels to look the age and sex and behavior of seals sighted during fishing operations. If the interactions were with males this was not such a risk to seal populations as if the interactions were with females. Members noted that it would help AFMA get a handle on the scale of the problem, why seals are targeting squid vessels whilst fishing and possibly look at mitigation measures.
SquidMAC further noted that the FAG had agreed that Portland should be the main area where the observations would be undertaken for the remainder of the season. Mr Elleway agreed to take Dr Arnould out on a squid boat prior to the observers going out on the boats.
The Committee noted and agreed with the FAG recommendation about what other information would be collected by the observers, especially bycatch.
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